Soccer team excited for start of MAC competition this weekend

Kent State senior forward Jaclyn Dutton (left) and Youngstown States Brittany Dowd fight for the ball with a headshot on Friday Sept. 20, 2013. Kent State defeated Youngstown 3-0. Photo by Eslah Attar.

Kent State senior forward Jaclyn Dutton (left) and Youngstown State’s Brittany Dowd fight for the ball with a headshot on Friday Sept. 20, 2013. Kent State defeated Youngstown 3-0. Photo by Eslah Attar.

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State Soccer team (5-3-0) will finish its three-game home stand in a big way this weekend by beginning the Mid-American Conference competition against Central Michigan (0-7-1) and Bowling Green (0-6-0).

The Flashes, who are coming off a 3-0 home victory against Youngstown State last weekend, look to carry their wave of momentum into this weekend’s contests against two conference rivals who have yet to win a game this season.

Putting these two MAC teams’ subpar records aside, head coach Rob Marinaro said he wants his team to build off the team’s progress they showed against YSU’s Penguins and use that progression to start their conference play off on the right foot.

He said the Flashes need to do a lot of the same things they did last week, including scoring points early in games, in order to defeat Central Michigan and Bowling Green this weekend.

“If you can get on the scoreboard first, it builds confidence, gets the ball rolling and we can move a lot quicker,” Marinaro said.

Marinaro and the players have been stressing for weeks just how vital it is to score points early in games, and last weekend, the Flashes proved these emphases right. In their game against YSU, the team jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just six minutes into the first half. Two more goals came later in the contest at the 38:03 and 63:31 marks of regulation.

One notable aspect of the Flashes’ performance against the Penguins that arguably led to their success was their high level of aggressive play, something Marinaro said has become a staple of his team.

“That’s always been our focus, and that’s how we always look to play,” Marinaro said about Kent State’s on-field tenacity. “That’s something that we sort of brand ourselves with, and we take a lot of pride in it.”

Last weekend’s game between the two crosstown rivals saw its fair share of pushing and shoving, and players from both sides eventually ended up on the ground. If last Friday’s game was any indication, the Flashes’ first two conference games at Zoeller Field have the potential to be highly intense matchups.

Marinaro said the team will be ready to meet this challenge head-on, especially because the Flashes have been on a tear at home so far this season. With a perfect 4-0 home record, he said his team will feed off the excitement of the home fans as they aim to boost their record to 6-0 after their first taste of the MAC.

“The MAC is always the greatest part of the season,” junior forward Stephanie Haugh said. “Overall, we’re just trying to improve on everything, and we want to have a winning season, especially winning games at home. We want to defend our home field.”

Friday’s action against Central Michigan begins at 4 p.m., and Sunday’s afternoon game against Bowling Green starts at 1 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].